The first step is to bring together a group of 5-10 individuals who have a strong commitment to refugee settlement and who can commit the time and the funds to welcome and support them for a minimum of 12 months. It’s important to remember that refugees will require daytime appointments so when you make up your constituent group, try to include members who will be free during the day to assist with some of these appointments. Once you have a core of the group in place, DOORS will meet with the group to explore next steps.
An excellent, practical, step by step handbook can be found at the Refugee Settlement Training site: http://www.rstp.ca/en/resources/hand-book-for-sponsoring-groups. You’ll find some telephone numbers if you require additional information. Feel free to contact DOORS if you have any questions that aren’t answered by this material.
The Diocese of Ontario is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the federal government. This means that the Diocese through the DOORS team can request on behalf of its sponsorship groups, called Constituent Groups (CGs), a match with refugees from abroad. There are two basic ways that this match is made: 1) refugee referred by a visa office abroad; 2) a sponsor referral. See Chapter 3 of the handbook for a fuller explanation.
Each constituent group will be asked to sign a contract that lays out the responsibilities of the constituent group. This is a legal contract between the group and the Diocese of Ontario (as the Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the federal government). The group will also be asked to fill out a settlement plan that outlines specific ways in which the group will support and settle newcomers. Someone from the DOORS committee will meet with you and provide help with drafting this settlement plan.
It is best to wait for the refugees to arrive before you sign a lease and start paying for rental accommodation. Arrival dates are impossible to predict. It is best to avoid a situation in which your group pays for rent for months before the arrival of a family. You can estimate the processing time on this website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/index.asp.
A Sponsorship groups in many cases have provided temporary accommodation in their own homes. This has the advantage of providing a warm welcome and excellent support for the first few days or weeks. In most cases, newcomers will want the privacy of their own place as soon as you are able to provide that but in the short time, welcoming guests (depending on family size) can be an excellent introduction to life in Canada and give you an opportunity to get to know the newcomers whom you have sponsored. If this isn’t possible in your sponsorship group or if the family group is too large, reach out to the wider community. Immigration Services Kingston and Area (ISKA) provides wonderful support to sponsors on many questions, including finding accommodation.